67% of Americans support the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes

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Barbenheimer Summer has been huge, a real victory for theaters that never fully bounced back post-pandemic. But Hot Labor Summer still marches on! I think the studios were hoping that the success of Barbenheimer would bolster their case somehow, in that maybe it would make the public realize they didn’t want to wait for more new movies? If so, that hope is dead, as polling group Data for Progress just released numbers that all favor the unions. From Variety:

Pro-strike, despite the delay in new content: A large majority of Americans support the writers and actors strike, and a plurality hold an unfavorable view of the Hollywood studios, according to a new poll by Data for Progress. The poll found 67% support among likely voters for the strikes by the Writers Guild of American and SAG-AFTRA, while just 18% opposed them. The poll also found that 48% have an unfavorable view of the major studios, and just 31% support the studios… The firm also asked strike supporters if delays in their favorite movies and TV shows would cause them to change their minds. The survey found that 86% would continue to support the strikes, while 10% would oppose them.

People understand why the unions are striking: The respondents gave mixed answers when asked the primary reason for the two strikes, with 33% citing fair compensation for streaming shows, another 33% citing pay and benefits, and 16% answering protections from artificial intelligence. The survey found 85% support for SAG-AFTRA’s position that actors should get consent and fair compensation for any use of their likeness by AI. The survey also found that 74% believe studios should be barred from replacing writers with AI.

AFL-CIO speaks: In a statement, Liz Shuler, the president of the AFL-CIO, said that the results confirm broad national support for the striking unions and the importance of AI across industries. “Voters understand that this isn’t just about one industry — this is about all of us — and unions need to have a seat at the table to take on the existential threat AI poses to our livelihoods and economy,” Shuler said.

SAG-AFTRA speaks: Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, the executive director of SAG-AFTRA, said in a statement that the poll shows Americans understand the reasons for the strike. “I suspect many are seeing the same dynamic playing out in their own lives, with employers undervaluing their contributions,” he said. “That’s why this fight is so important. Our demands aren’t unreasonable, and it’s a fundamental principle of fairness that workers should be fairly compensated for the value they bring their employer — in every industry.”

WGA speaks: Lowell Peterson, the executive director of WGA East, concurred. “Everyone who works for a living understands what it’s like to get squeezed economically, to face threats from disruptive technology like AI, to try to hold one’s own against huge corporations motivated by their own profit rather than their employees’ well-being,” Peterson said.

[From Variety]

The ambassadors/coordinators/communicators for the striking unions have been doing such a good job at getting their messaging out. I’m low-key starting to wonder if it’s the same people behind the Barbie marketing, it’s been that good. Based on these polls, it’s clear the public understands what the unions are fighting for and overwhelmingly support them. While it’s one thing to be pro-strike in the abstract, the fact that 86% said they still support the strikes even though it means a delay in new film & tv content, that’s a big PR win. Then to have all the union leaders (including my favorite, golden-named Duncan Crabtree-Ireland!) hammer home the point that this moment matters for all unions, not just tinseltown… you guys, I’m kvelling. As a lifelong democrat who’s watched her team make a habit of bungling the messaging of good policies time and time and time and time again, I’m nearly crying with joy at watching it all be carried out so well. And I’ll be holding on to this euphoria as we enter what I’m calling Tepid Film Festival Fall.

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